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South Korea aims to advance in 2026 qualifiers with another interim coach at the helm

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South Korea faces Singapore on Thursday, needing just a point to ensure progress to the third round of Asia’s 2026 World Cup qualifiers, despite Kim Do-hoon becoming the third coach at the helm of the regional heavyweights since the turn of the year.

Kim was appointed last month as the team’s second interim coach in the aftermath of Juergen Klinsmann’s sacking after a failed Asian Cup campaign. Kim replaced Hwang Sun-hong, who led the team through March’s qualifying doubleheader.

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Anything other than a defeat in Singapore by a side that has picked up one point in four matches, and was trounced 5-0 in Seoul in November, would see South Korea advance.

Qatar, Japan, Iran, Uzbekistan, Iraq, Australia, and the United Arab Emirates have already advanced to the third round, where 18 nations will battle for six of the continent’s eight guaranteed berths at the 2026 finals in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.

Kim, who won the Asian Champions League title with Ulsan Hyundai in 2020 before coaching Singaporean side Lion City Sailors, said South Korea would take nothing for granted in the city-state.

“Southeast Asian football has improved so much lately, and we shouldn’t take Singapore lightly. Their national team now has several players that I coached in Singapore. So I will share my scouting reports on them with my players now,” he said.

The South Koreans lead Group C by three points from China, who face Thailand in Shenyang knowing a win would also take them into the third round.

Saudi Arabia can confirm its progress from Group G with victory over Pakistan in Islamabad while Asian Cup finalists Jordan needs a win over Tajikistan in Amman to also advance.

India takes on Kuwait in Group A with both nations looking to go through alongside already qualified Asian Cup holder Qatar, who faces an Afghanistan side still harbouring qualification hopes.

Syria and North Korea meet in neutral Vientiane in the race to take second place in Group B behind Japan.

Kyrgyzstan faces Malaysia in Group D, with that pair plus Oman still in contention for a third round spot, while Indonesia hosts Iraq hoping for a result that will see the team join the Group F winner in the next round.

A draw against Yemen in Riffa would see Bahrain advance from Group H, while a point would also be enough for Palestine to finish second in Group I ahead of Lebanon, whom it meets in Doha.

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